Ask Casey No. 7

I get lots of design questions from you guys, but I actually get questions about a lot of other things happening in my life, like marriage, blogging, motherhood, fashion…really every single category! So, I tackle your inquiries in my “Ask Casey” blog post series answering your questions every month or so.

Ask Casey No. 7

Ask Casey No. 3

Here are a few past posts if you want to catch up…

The google form (at the bottom of the post) has helped me keep everything organized so I can slowly make my way through your inquiries.  So, if you have another question today, be sure to submit it down below.

Learning DIYOur DIY office built-ins

What resources did you use when you learned DIY projects? Did you buy books or mostly watch YouTube? We are new homeowners and I’m not sure where to start!

Up until about seven years ago, I didn’t know one thing about home improvement or DIY. I didn’t own any tools, I had never owned a drill, and I had never hung something on the wall (well, at least not well). I’ve slowly learned little by little through every project I have done. Every project is a learning experience and it builds on to the next one. If you would have told me five years ago that I would have made my own built-in bookcases, I would have laughed in your face! Even just two years ago, we renovated our guest bathroom in our condo and we had no idea what we were doing. That was the first DIY project Finn had ever done (most people assume he has a home improvement background…he does not!). It was the first time I had ever tiled and boy, there was a hell of a lot to tile. We learned sooo much together and the next time we tiled we were ten times better.Power tools 101

I’ve learned from Youtube videos, Googling, and following other bloggers and their amazing tutorials. The only way to learn is to start and to practice. Start small and work your way up!

Struggling for Contentfinding content for the blog

I have always been amazed by and wondered how you continue to produce content when you are going through a hard time or you are sick. You never seemed to miss a beat, through all the hardships you went through last year. When I am under stress or having a personal struggle, I find it so hard to create, which my business is dependent upon. Have you ever struggled to come up with ideas or to write?

What an amazing (and super kind question). Yes, of course, I’ve struggled to write sometimes. Just like anyone, there are days where work can just feel hard, and other days where the projects come easily and the words just flow. Before I shared my infertility journey on the blog, I suffered silently for a few months and I found it really hard to write about design or DIY during that time. It just didn’t seem important and it seemed frivolous. But once I shared our struggle publicly, I was reminded that the blog isn’t just for surface-level topics. Instead, it can be a platform for deeper, more important discussions.Life with our new roomie. Working from the dining room table.

For me, the easiest posts to write are the personal ones or the projects that come with a story. Those blog posts happen quickly and are my favorite. Cut and dried tutorials are incredibly important and they’re the backbone of the blog, but they can sometimes be trickier to write quickly. Our bathroom reveal

In terms of coming up with blog post content, that’s a question I receive constantly…”Aren’t you worried you’ll run out of projects?” In all my seven and a half years of doing this, I’ve never struggled to come up with topics. There is always a project to be done around the house or something to share with all of you! I always put projects on my editorial calendar a month or so out.  That way, it gives me the motivation to get it done and make it happen. The blog keeps me accountable and helps me run through my long home to-do list. Will we eventually run out of projects in this house? I suppose, but that won’t be for a while. And I’m sure by then we’ll have another adventure up our sleeves!

Workin’ MamaLife as a workin mama

How are you scheduling your work time with a baby at home…my kids are teens and tweens and I still can’t figure this out! My “best-laid plans” for productivity get derailed so often which I find challenging. It would be great to see a “day in the life” now that you are juggling work and motherhood.

The struggle is real! I bow down to all of the working moms out there. It is tough! During the month of June, I was “back to work” but also watching Rory every day.  I would get her down for a nap, throw in laundry, start pumping, wash a few bottles, and then sit down to work…only to have her wake up. It was very difficult to be productive and get much done.Rory and Casey

Now, my mom has been watching Rory three days a week and it’s a godsend! She is here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I am able to focus on work. Of course, I still hang with them and check in to see how the day is going, but just knowing that someone else is there looking after her allows me to really dive into my workload. I also try to squeeze in a project on the weekends when Rory has more time with Finn.

On Tuesday and Thursdays, I have my “mom days”. I try my best to be 100% present with Rory when she is awake, and then I do my social media work and emails during her naptime.

That’s our new normal around here and it’s working for now. I’m not getting in nearly as much work as before, but I’m adjusting. I have wanted to do another “day in the life” post. Would you want to see it on a M/W/F where I’m working? Or on a T/TH where I’m on mom duty? Let me know and I can write it accordingly!

Displaying AccessoriesMy best shelf styling tips for home decor

How are you successfully objective about the number of favorite accessories you display? Gut feeling, taking a photo, asking a friend? I swore I wouldn’t become a “knick-knack paddy whack” person! And I don’t like storing even favorites to cycle through, goes against my minimizing. 

This question made me laugh out loud…”knick-knack paddy whack!” Ha! It can be easy to overdo it with the accessories, especially when you have so many favorite items. I tend to be pretty cutthroat about the items I display in my house. So it has to be super sentimental or over-the-top amazing to make it as an accessory around here.

I do think taking a photo can really help when decorating. Sometimes when you’re looking at a shelf in real life you just don’t see the obvious things that are wrong with it. But if you take a photo with your phone and then really dissect it, you can get a better sense of what might be off. I always do that when decorating shelves or surfaces.Custom framing options for special art

I think at the end of the day, you just have to be really choosy about what you want to display in your home. As I shared in this post about shelf styling, I’m much more likely to accessorize with a piece that has a story than with a random object I found at Target or HomeGoods. I think if you get rid of the items that don’t have much significance, you’ll be left with the truly special pieces that should be displayed.

Sleeping TipsRory sleeping in her crib

I saw that Rory is already sleeping through the night (amazing!). What sleep program did you do? Did you have to do sleep training? 

Rory has been sleeping through the night like a champ since she was 12 weeks old. We do her bedtime feeding at 6 pm and she is usually asleep between 6:30- 7 pm. She then sleeps until 6:00 am the next day. During her second month of life (where she became a bit fussier), I read just about every book about sleep out there. I don’t advise doing this because everyone shares conflicting advice and it will make your head spin! In the end, I decided to go with the schedule from Moms on Call.

I highly recommend checking out both of those for all of the details and guidelines, but here are the big takeaways that we implement. Rory is on a routine where she wakes up and goes to bed at the same time each day. She then eats at roughly the same time for all of her feedings (6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm). We feed, play, and then it’s time for a nap. I put her to bed drowsy, but awake. That way she is able to learn how to put herself to sleep. This was key for us because when she wakes up between sleep cycles in the middle of the night she can easily put herself back to sleep. She also takes a majority of her naps in the crib (prior to 12 weeks she was swaddled for all of those, now she wears her Baby Merlin’s Magic sleepsuit).

We never had to do formal sleep training (where you let your baby cry it out), because Rory was already sleeping through the night by the time you sleep train.

Faux PlantsFaux fern

Are plastic plants and faux trees—even beautiful, $$$ ones—beyond tacky? My gut tells me yes. But several top designers say they’re great. I trust you.

Another question that made me laugh out loud. I think there are definitely bad fake plants out there — those that look super plastic and cheap, like they should be in a 1990s dentist’s office. However, faux plants have come a long way and there are some really great ones out there these days. You can check out this post for the scoop on all of the indoor plants in my home (both real and fake) and this post has great tips to make a faux fiddle tree look real.Olive tree from crate and barrel on black friday sales 2019

Overall, I think quality faux plants do cost money. My faux olive tree is pricey, but it’s also a piece I’ll have forever and I constantly get compliments and questions about it (everyone thinks it’s real!). And if you have a brown thumb, it can be pricey to buy plants over and over again when you’ll likely just kill them, so faux may be the way to go!

Working & COVIDOur office makeover and wall mural

Has your job been impacted by the COVID craziness?

In the beginning — Yes. I had some collaborations that were paused due to the uncertainty of the world and the future. However, since the summertime, things have gone back to normal…maybe even busier than usual? I think as a home blogger I have a unique advantage right now because people are at home and wanting to do projects. The home improvement industry is one that may actually benefit from this pandemic. My pageviews have never been better and the collaboration inquiries keep on coming. I think this crazy new world we live in has emphasized the importance of creating a cozy home that you love. So, I’m happy that people now have more time to devote to home projects, decorating, organizing, and cleaning!

Submit Your Questions

Have a question you want to be answered? Use the google form below and I’ll answer it in the next Ask Casey post.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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